Formula 1 drivers’ championship leader Lewis Hamilton has been hit with an extra five-place grid drop ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix after Mercedes broke a seal on his gearbox overnight.
Hamilton was due to start the race from 21st place on the grid after being hit with a number of penalties for taking three new power units over the weekend.
Hamilton had a 55-place grid drop to serve that would see him start ahead only of Fernando Alonso, who had 60 places worth of penalties.
Hamilton told NBCSN on Saturday that he would rather not start from the pit lane, but the FIA stewards issued a document saying he would have to after Mercedes broke parc ferme conditions.
However, Mercedes now claims that the FIA stewards have issued an incorrect penalty, and that Hamilton will start from the grid after all, with his penalty being a five-place grid drop that takes his total up to 60.
“The stewards issued the incorrect penalty and have now issued a five-place grid penalty, taking us to 60 places in total,” a Mercedes spokesperson said.
“The gearbox seal was broken so that Lewis can take a fresh gearbox at the next event. He will start from the grid, not the pit lane.”
As Alonso failed to set a time in Q1 and technically didn’t qualify, Hamilton will still start ahead of the Spaniard.